How to Transition to a Career in Software Engineering? – Software engineering is one of the hottest fields for the next few years and the demand for software engineers is set to increase by 22% leading into 2030 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, if you are contemplating a career in the field, you are probably choosing the perfect time to do so.
With that being said, software engineering is a very competitive field, and it’s not for everyone. Getting your credentials while you keep your current position won’t be easy either, but there are things that you can do to make things easier for you. Here’s how you can transition into a software engineering career.
Look at Your Current Skills and Aptitudes
The very first thing you have to do is check if you have what it takes to become a software engineer. At the core, good mathematical, problem solving, and analytical skills will be essential, but soft skills are also very important. You need to understand the distinction between software engineering and software development before you decide which field would be better for you based on your current aptitudes.
If you’re a people person and love managing teams, then software engineering is the field for you. Software engineers don’t work in silos like software developers do and they have to constantly collaborate and be leaders of the teams they work with. So, if you lack the soft skills or this isn’t the kind of role you were looking for, then you might want to look at other options.
View Your Work Experience as an Asset
Your current career could be a valuable asset and you should consider it when looking at your future career path. A lot of people go into software engineering from fields like manufacturing or healthcare and with a diverse education can transition into IT positions that are closely related to their previous niche.
Having a background in nursing, for instance, could help you find a job as a healthcare interface developer, systems analyst, or in remote healthcare. These are all positions with great prospects for the future and where your unique set of skills will make you a hot commodity. So, instead of seeing your current career as a waste, try to see if you could use your current expertise to stand out for positions in the future.
Try a Boot Camp or a MOOC
Before you go all-in with a degree program, it could be a good idea to try a boot camp first. This will allow you to get an idea of whether you have the skills to work in software engineering and see if your idea of what it means to be a software engineer is in line with reality. People often have a completely different vision of what being a software engineer entails, and a boot camp will allow you to reassess your expectations.
Following a boot camp will also give you a solid foundation and will make the transition from your current career to a bachelor’s or master’s degree much easier.
Look at Online Computer Science Degrees
If you are intending to keep your current job while you get your computer science degree, we strongly suggest that you go for an online program. Working full-time while having to physically attend classes is nearly impossible for most people, especially for those with obligations outside of work. Being able to follow classes on your own time and from the comfort of your home will make your goals more attainable.
Another great thing about online degrees is that many of them are made specifically with people transitioning from other fields in mind. Baylor University’s online master’s in software engineering allows people coming from fields like physics, engineering, mathematics, and any field closely related to software engineering to use their credits and get into the program. Their online program will also allow you to get your degree faster than through a traditional one.
You do have to be careful with the program you pick, however. First, you have to make sure that it’s properly accredited. Look for specialized accreditation from bodies like the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) as well as regional ones. This will not only ensure that your degree is recognized, but that the education you get is up to the latest standards. You should check how high the school’s computer science program is ranked as well as this is what will ultimately dictate how your degree will be viewed by employers.
Speak with Current Engineers
Speak with as many active software engineers as you can right now. Only they will be able to tell you exactly what you can expect from the job and some of the challenges you have to prepare for. You’ll also get the chance to start building a valuable network and maybe even find a mentor.
Start Working on Independent Projects
Working on independent projects while you get your formation will allow you to refine your skills, beef up your resume, and show your enthusiasm for the field. Having a large repository of projects will help you stand out with employers, especially those who are involved in projects similar to yours.
Build Your Online Presence
Spreading your online brand will also help you access more opportunities, and it could help recruiters and companies find you before you find them. Having a strong presence on LinkedIn, GitHub, and AngelList will all help. This will allow you to show your experience fast by adding a link to your portfolio.
Be Prepared to Start Small
No one in this field gets a job with a big brand right from the start. You have to be ready to work with tiny no-name companies at the beginning, or even do some contract work. These jobs will usually pay very well, however, so don’t worry about making ends meet and focus on getting more experience. You’ll eventually be able to find something better.
These are all things you’ll need to do if you want to move from your current career to a career in software engineering. It is a very promising field with lots of opportunities, so take the time to examine what will be required of you and the different career paths you can take.
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